The simplest way to define a market is to think of it as consisting of all the people or organizations that may have an interest in purchasing a company’s products or services. In other words, a market comprises all customers who have needs that may be fulfilled by an organization’s offerings. Yet just having a need is not enough to define a market. Many people may say they have a need for a California mansion that overlooks the Pacific Ocean but most would not be considered potential customers of a real estate agent who is attempting to sell such a property. So other factors come into play when defining a market.
The first factor is that markets consist of customers who are qualified to make a purchase. Qualified customers are defined as those who:
- Seek a solution to a need, and
- Are eligible to make a purchase, and
- Possess the financial ability to make the purchase, and
- Have the authority to make the decision, and
- Can be reached by the marketer.
Note that a customer must meet ALL factors listed above, though for some markets the customer may have a surrogate who will handle some of these qualifications for a targeted customer. For instance, a market may consist of pre-teen customers who have a need for certain clothing items but the actual purchase may rest with the pre-teens’ parents. So the parents could possibly assume one or more surrogate roles (e.g., financial ability, authority) that will result in the pre-teen being a qualified customer.
A second factor for defining a market rests with the company’s ability to service the market. To an organization a market can only exist if the solutions sought by customers are ones that the company can satisfy with their offerings. If a company identifies a group of customers who are qualified to make purchases they only become a market for the company once the company is in a position to execute marketing activities designed to service those customers.
Thus, for the purposes of this tutorial, a market is defined as a group of customers who are qualified to make purchases of products or services that a marketer is able to offer. However, even if an organization can offer products and services to a market, not all markets will fit an organization’s goals and objectives. With this in mind, we now turn our attention to examining the process marketers follow to choose which markets are best to target with their marketing effort.